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Horizontal image of a white platter with rows of meatballs covered in a red sauce with toothpicks inserted in them.

Sweet and Tangy Meatballs

  • Author: Meghan Yager
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 15 minutes
  • Yield: 50 meatballs 1x


Sweet and tangy meatballs are a classic party appetizer that’s perfect for your next big gathering, easy to prep in the oven or slow cooker.


  • 2 lbs ground beef (80-85% lean)
  • 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 white medium onion, minced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 Tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups ketchup or chili sauce
  • 18 oz natural grape jelly


  1. Combine ground beef, breadcrumbs, eggs, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, and chili powder in a large bowl until well-combined.
  2. Form the meat into 50 equally-sized balls, using a rounded teaspoonful for each.
  3. Add oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat, or add to your slow cooker and turn on the SEAR setting. Once hot, lightly brown the meatballs in batches. Transfer to a large plate after they brown.
  4. Add ketchup or chili sauce and jelly to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Pour about 2/3 cup of the sauce into the bottom of a Dutch oven or Crock-Pot insert, spreading to coat the bottom in an even layer. This can also be done on the SEAR setting in your slow cooker.
  5. Add one-third of the meatballs to the bottom of the pan or insert. Top with another 2/3 cup of sauce. Add another third of the meatballs on top, followed by another 2/3 cup of sauce. Finish with the remaining meatballs and top with remaining sauce.
  6. If you are using a Dutch oven, cover and cook on low heat for 3 hours, until sauce has thickened and meat is cooked through.
  7. If you are using a slow cooker, set to low and cook for 2-3 hours, until sauce is very thick and beef is cooked through.
  8. Serve immediately on a platter with toothpicks.
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 hours, 10 minutes
  • Category: Meatballs
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: Appetizers

Keywords: meatballs, sweet and sour meatballs, grape jelly, ketchup